You have a great idea, the perfect project. You're going to change the world, or at least make a lot of people happy. And then, suddenly, life gets in the way. But don't worry, because "life" is one of the best things that can happen to your business.
Yes, I'm talking about work-life balance, or work-life separation as Tim Ferris advocates. Just after my co-founder Casey agreed to join me in launching a spicy honey company in just 30 days, life struck. I had to tell him I'd be moving to London in support of my wife's next career move. I felt I let him down before we had even started. I considered cutting our loss and abandoning our launch. Fortunately, Casey was confident we could figure it out.
All entrepreneurs experience the life vs. business battle. Take the case of Sarah Kay Hoffman. Sarah and I met through the Internet. (Not like that. We connected because we're both working on food startups.) One day she sent me this e-mail:
"Today is one of those days... my husband is traveling and the baby couldn't go to daycare because of a runny nose. We just launched our full website and orders are coming in!"
After talking with Sarah and other entrepreneurs about the impact of a hectic life, I'm convinced it's great for your business. If you embrace the opportunity, a hectic life will make you more effective and make your business stronger:
1) More Focus, Less Distraction
When "life" happens, you will decline opportunities and distractions within your business. This is a blessing in disguise, as most entrepreneurs take on too much. They sacrifice the core of their business for shiny objects in the periphery.
With this "blessing", you will perform triage and focus on only the activities your business needs to survive and grow. This might require passing on promising opportunities or saying no more than yes, but you will move forward. At MixedMade, we delayed our sales pitch to two ideal retail partners until I settled in London and knew we could handle the load. For Sarah, she launched with just one flavor of her nut butter, despite demand for all flavors.
2) More Decisions, Faster
You will always have an endless To-Do list, but not all those items relate to progress. Use this compressed time to make decisions instead of mulling over options for longer than necessary.
During my move to London, Casey and I returned to a pace and decisiveness we had lost since our 30 day launch. While this happened by force, it is a good reminder of how we can operate if we choose to do so deliberately.
Sarah admits she had a hard time making decisions and forming an appropriate team. But then she had to balance her new baby and her new startup and felt frustrated with a lack of progress. Her solution? She embraced rapid decision-making, as those decisions related to immediate progress.
3) Clarification of Purpose
As you work to grow your business, it's easy to forget why you're doing this. So when life throws the kitchen sink at you, that is an ideal time to remember why you're in business in the first place. This can help you reframe priorities and stay motivated.
Sarah started her business to help others live a less processed life and think about nut butters in a whole new way. So she considers that purpose anytime life gets hectic, and it makes the impossible a little more possible.
I started MixedMade to learn and to use our journey to inspire first-time entrepreneurs. The chaos of my move to London made me step back to reconsider if I'm accomplishing that goal. I realized I was off the mark and made adjustments to better meet that purpose.
If you have any hectic life-business stories, we'd love to hear them--comment to share.
Want more? Visit our startup journey blog at mixedmade.com